March 10, 1920

UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. BURNHAM:

In the English House

of Commons he voted against the laws for shortening the hours of labour.

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L LIB
UNION
L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. D. D. McKENZIE (Cape Breton North and Victoria):

Mr. Speaker, the

question which the hon. member (Mr. Burnham) has dealt with so ably is one to which more importance, perhaps, should be attached than we have been in the habit of giving it. The hon. member has dealt with the question of fuel as bearing upon the cost of supplying the needs of the ordinary household. In the country from which I come we have an abundance of splendid fuel. In Ontario and perhaps further West there are thousands of people who have not readily available a

plentiful supply of good fuel. The coal which we have in Nova Scotia is soft or bituminous coal. A great many of the people of this country do not want to use this coal; they desire the more luxurious article,-anthracite or hard coal. I suppose that hard coal may be used more conveniently than soft coal, and perhaps it is cleaner and less productive of dust and smoke. Well, I like a comfortable home as well as anybody, and I have been burning bituminous Nova Scotia coal in my house for the last thirty years, with the exception of one or two years when I used a few tons of hard coal. What I regard as good enough for my home would be fairly good, I think, for the average home in this country. Of course, in many cities and larger centres of Canada the houses are not equipped for the burning of soft coal, the furnaces being constructed to burn hard coal. It is worth while considering the advisability of having these furnaces changed and of installing furnaces which will burn soft coal. Thousands of people who have no furnaces depend upon the ordinary stove and the ordinary grate. For people of that class no fuel is more satisfactory than the good coal which we in Nova Scotia are able to produce.

Of course, it is all very well for me to talk about the people of Port Arthur and other places that are far from Nova Scotia using our bituminous coal; the question for the consumer is: Can I, at reasonable cost, get that coal delivered at my residence? The question, therefore, is largely one of transportation. How are we to get the coal from Nova Scotia to these different .parts of the country where it is most needed? I have several times spoken in the House upon this question. The member for East Lamb-ton (Mr. J. E. Armstrong) brought the matter up in an indirect way last year or the year before and thus gave us an opportunity of discussing it. Now, the only way-of getting the coal of Nova Scotia as far west as Port Arthur, the extreme western limit of our inland navigable waters, is by developing the St. Lawrence route. I suggest to the Government, and particularly to the Minister of Railways and Acting Minister of Public Works (Hon. J. D. Reid) and the Minister of Trade and Commerce that in my judgment nothing calls more urgently for the expenditure of public money than the opening of the St. Lawrence trade route between Port Arthur and the Atlantic seaboard, so that coal may be loaded on a vessel at Sydney, North Sidney, Pictou or Parrsboro and conveyed to Port Arthur, and, of course, intermediate points,

by water. The return cargo can be made up of manufactured goods, fruit, meat, or whatever else the people along that route have to supply. The miners and steel workers of Nova Scotia would be delighted to obtain some of that excellent fruit which is produced in Ontario and for which, I understand, the market is not what it ought to be. It may be surprising to some to hear people from Nova Scotia speaking of getting food from anywhere else, as we have beautiful orchards and we raise large quantities of fruit in that province. That is quite so; but instead of the fruit that is raised in the Annapolis valley going to the eastern part of the province, it finds its way to the United States, only very little of it going to the eastern part of Nova Scotia. Therefore, a magnificent market is left open for fruit which could be cheaply carried from parts of Ontario to Cape Breton if we had navigation from the seacoast as I have stated. This is the point which I wish particularly to bring to the attention of the Government, namely, that we have coal in abundance, in almost inexhaustible supply, and of its kind as good as any coal that there is in the world, and the question is ong of opening up a way by which we in the East can send our products to the far West as far as navigation is possible, and bring back to our province wheat, flour, meats, fruits and other products which a vessel could bring back after having carried a cargo of coal and steel to points in the West. We produce abundance of steel, and we are only, so to speak, picking up pebbles on the seacoast of what is forthcoming in Nova Scotia as regards the production of iron and steel. Millions of English capital are, I understand, about to be invested in those great industries, and it would be well that we be able to supply the raw material for the manufacture of farm implements and such other articles as require the use of iron and steel in their manufacture. We shall be able to furnish, of our own production within Canada and for our own people, those goods, if we have the proper facility for transportation as I have stated. The difficulty now is that by rail the distances are great, and the freight rates, although possibly reasonable, will, on account of the .long distances, make the transportation of those goods prohibitive. My reason, therefore, for taking part in this discussion was to impress on the Government, and particularly on the Minister of Mines (Mr. Meighen), that the subject touched upon by the hon. member (Mr. Burnham) is far-reaching in its effect, and fMr. McKenzie.]

that the motion should not be passed as a perfunctory matter that has no bearing upon the development of this country and of our resources. I am very glad that the hon. member has brought this matter, even in this somewhat indefinite way, before the House. I do not quite agree with him that it is necessary to set any time apart for the discussion of the subject, because that would be almost like asking us to set a time apart to prove that two and two make four. The question is what will the Government do? How can public money be utilized in bringing about the condition which I have outlined and which everybody knows? The Department of Mines should and, I suppose, have information in regard to the available coal in the different provinces. I suppose it will be found in the report of that department how coal may be utilized, whether it is fit for domestic purposes, and the prices at which coal, providing there are proper facilities for bringing it to the points which I have mentioned, may be laid down at those points. Finally, I have in mind the necessity of this country being indepedent of any other country in the world in regard to fuel. We get a large quantity of fuel from across the line now, and we are neighbourly and good friends. But should anything happen by which troubles might arise and an embargo be placed upon fuel coming into Canada, we could be starved out or frozen out in less than ten days if we were entirely dependent upon that country and not equipped for the use of our own coal and not able to bring our own coal to the points where it is required. This is an important question, and this is the place and the time that hon. gentlemen should give such an important question due consideration.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Hon. AETHUE MEIGHEN (Minister of the Interior):

Mr. .Speaker, the opening

sentence of the resolution calls attention to the high cost of living and to the consequences thereof; but I observed, I am sorry to say only after the hon. member for Peterborough West (Mr. Burnham) had commenced his address, that the latter half emphasizes in particular the fuel situation in Canada and the need for a time being selected for its discussion in this House. The sources of fuel supply of this Dominion are indeed ample; they are prolific. Fuel, as at present consumed, consists mainly of coal; but coal is only one source of supply; oil is another; wood is another; peat is a fourth, and oil from our oil shale deposits may be said to be a fifth. I have

a little knowledge oi one subject of fuel supply mentioned by the hon. member for Peterborough West, namely, alcohol. I would not be in a position to discuss how far we might rely upon that for the development of energy, other than human energy.

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L LIB
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The coal of the Dominion lies mainly in the extreme provinces. In the province represented in part by the hon. member for Cape Breton North and Victoria fMr. McKenzie), there are, of course, huge deposits of the character of coal he describes. There are also deposits in the other Maritime Provinces; but the great central provinces of Ontario and Quebec are in the main bereft of that supply. In Western Canada, coal is found in Manitoba in considerable abundance, in Saskatchewan in greater abundance, and in Alberta in abundance so very great as to make that province one of the main sources of supply of the world. The province of British Columbia also contributes its quota, and no meagre quota either. It as fortunate that in those provinces and areas of Canada where coal and, in the main, wood are not to be found, and where oil -"appears only in very limited quantities, we have another sourcq of supply as yet only partially developed, though developed in greater degree than does any other country in the world develop it, namely, water-power. When one says that all those coal deposits lie in the provinces that I have named, that does not get us much further in the way of reaching a solution of what is called the fuel.problem of Canada. There are many who loosely think or say that, inasmuch as there lies in Alberta 12 per cent, it is said-I think the percentage is larger-of the reserve coal of the world, we there may immediately rely upon a great bank against which we can issue cheques for the discharge of the national debt of Canada, or even a bank against which we can call for the supply of the fuel needed to heat our homes. There are a lot of graver problems associated with this question than the mere existence of what is described as an inexhaustible source of supply in the bosom of mother earth. If one talks in those terms it would be correct, I suppose, to say that in most sections of farm land in Western Canada there lies the potentiality of a million dollars' worth of value for the good of the people of Canada. The value is there all right. The content of the soil is there, the sunlight and the rains fall upon the lands, and if human brain and human muscle are

brought to bear and time does its work, then doubtless the wealth will come. The very same argument applies to our coal. There is in the province of Alberta alone, speaking from memory, 400,000 million tons of coal deposits, chiefly lignite, very largely bituminous, but with some anthracite, which, though not as hard as Pennsylvania anthracite, is claimed to have an oil content and other contents which make it a better fuel. But the fact is undisputed that the invested capital heretofore applied to the coal of that province has returned to the investor something like only one-eighth of one per cent of annual revenue. It has been charged against the policy of Canada dating back for decades that we have given these deposits away to speculators and others, but the fact of the matter is that up to the present hour the Dominion, as a Dominion, has not at all lost its fair share of the wealth of those depgsits. It is true some of them have been fee alienated, but even in those cases a return has been secured, and I think a comparison between the position of the country on the one hand and the alienee or purchaser on the other would show that the country came off rather the better. The purchaser for the most part, though there may be exceptions, has secured very little at all on his capital invested, whereas the country has secured at all events the purchase price and the advantage of some development. Dating back I think to 1914, the alienation of natural resources ceased, except by means of leasing. A fee has not been given since that time, and the coal .deposits, the same as other resources, have been let on rental terms and subject to royalty, both bringing in revenue to ,the Dominion, and subject to carefully devised regulations to protect the public interest so far as the best experts at our command could advise us how those interests could be protected. The difficulty is mainly that the market within transportation range of the coal pit is so limited that to turn out the coal on such a scale as would admit of cheap production is very difficult indeed. When we reach the day when that country will have developed and industries have become established there and population increased, the market will grow with the growth of the nation, and the output of [DOT]coal will reach a scale where it will more easily compete in point of cost of production with coal fields in other lands.

Another factor in the situation is this: Western coal, and particularly Saskatchewan coal, is. mainly a lignite deposit, and not of a nature that admits of mufch ex-

posure and transportation. Consequently; efforts have been made by this Government and by the previous Government to devise some scientific means whereby that lignite coal could be put in a form not only to be of use in competition with anthracite coal, but to admit of transportation the same as anthracite, and be made available for the consumers of Western Canada, who are now compelled to use mostly anthracite from Pennsylvania. A board was formed in co-operation with the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and appropriations were made to that board, whose duty it was to engage in scientific research in order to devise carbonizing methods, and study the briquetting that follows the carbonizing, in order, if possible, to put the briquetting of lignite coal on a commercial basis where it might succeed. My information is that the results so far obtained by that joint board, are very encouraging indeed. It is even intimated that private capital would be disposed now to. attack the problem and possibly to relieve the Dominion of further financial obligations, but I have nothing definite to say in that regard. It is, however, a pleasure to me to intimate to Parliament that the members of that board are encouraged by the results so far attained, and hope to be able to reach results more complete which will make certain the commercial success of the briquetting process.

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UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. NESBITT:

Has the minister any

idea of the actual cost of transport of a ton of coal from Edmonton to Toronto?

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I have not definite information, but I rather think the actual cost of transport is now not less than the amount charged. I am inclined to think that the coal rates, generally speaking, are placed as low as they can be placed, unless it is to be assumed that coal must be carried at a loss.

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UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. NESBITT:

Is it not a fact that the cost of freight and handling alone would be greater than what we have to pay now for bituminous coal on the other side?

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I think it is.

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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. BURNHAM:

Does that take into

consideration water transport?

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UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. NESBITT:

You have to have water transport for a certain distance.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I could not give the

details, but I can assure the hon. member that all these subjects have been most carefully inquired into by those who would

like to develop these mines and to reach the very market the hon. member has in mind. They are the most anxious people of all. There is no doubt in the world that the Edmonton Board of Trade would be delighted beyond measure if some means could be found that would reduce the cost of transportation, possibly at the expense of the Canadian National railways, to such a figure as would bring about a larger area of consumption for the coal of Alberta. We all would like the same thing, but these things must be put on a common sense business basis, and the efforts of the Mines Department are devoted to the finding of ways and means for putting the business on that basis in order that it may be made a success, on its own merits, and not at the expense of failure of some other national enterprise.

It is a fact that at the present time we import into' this Dominion huge quantities of anthracite coal and, indeed, of bituminous coal as well. Our importations altogether from the United States last year amounted to $740,000,000. Of that sum, about $200,000,000 worth consisted of one article which I do not think it is necessary that I should mention at this moment; but $61,000,000 represented importations of coal.

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L LIB
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Sixty-one million dollars. Those are the figures given me [DOT] by the Department of Trade and Commerce.

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L LIB
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It is possible that the hon. gentleman saw the figures for another year terminating in another month. The figures given to me for the year 1919 by the department aggregate $61,000,000. However, if it were $70,000,000 my argument would be all the stronger. That is a stupendous sum, to save which it is worth making considerable sacrifice. It is noteworthy as well that while our consumption of coal has kept on increasing during the last few years, our consumption of imported coal has advanced far more rapidly than the consumption of domestic coal. I speak now from memory and am therefore subject to correction, but I think that in five years we have advanced in production of domestic coal from thirteen to fourteen million odd tons, while in the very same time there has been an advance in the use of imported coal from twenty-six to thirty-four million tons-a far greater advance in the consumption of imported coal than of domestic coal.

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L LIB

Georges Parent

Laurier Liberal

Mr. PARENT:

In view of the figures cited by the minister, I should like to know if Canada would be in a position to supply its own market in the event of the United States Government prohibiting the exportation of coal from that country into Cnaada.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I would be the last to admit that any action on the part of the United States would put us entirely off the map of the North American continent. We would have to meet the emergency, which I think is unlikely though not impossible; and in this connection I commend the prudence of the hon. member for Cape Breton North and Victoria (Mr. McKenzie) in his assertion that we should guard against all such emergencies to the utmost of our power. The doctrine is a sound one and every Canadian should subscribe to it. But if the emergency suggested by the hon. member (Mr. Parent) did occur, while there would he hardship and suffering which would undoubtedly put us to our wits end and tax all our resources, we have the coal. Indeed, we have more than the coal; we have wood; and though it would cost a great deal, I do not think the time would be long before we should be able to meet even a disaster so great as the one in consideration. The question of transportation is of course relevant, and it is just because the coal of this country must be transported over distances so vast, our country being so extensive in proportion to the population, that this nation has gone to such colossal expenditures in the matter of transportation. We are now engaged in the enterprise of deepening the Welland canal to a twenty-five foot capacity. It is hoped that the St. Lawrence route will ultimately be made of the same capacity, and I should not like the word "ultimately" to be interpreted as being synonymous with "eternity." I trust it may be given a reasonable interpretation. 'It is not a matter of merely finding a method of using Dominion moneys to achieve this result; it is a matter of finding Dominion moneys to use for the purpose. The deepening of the Welland canal had to be deferred during the progress of the war, and just how far we shall be able to go in resuming operations is purely a matter of finance. It is not a question of desire nor one of the wisdom of the undertaking, because so long as the coal and grain and other huge resources of the Dominion must be transported east and west, so long is it clear that water transportation must be provided therefor.

iComing to other sources of fuel, I have briefly stated what is being done in the way of endeavouring to make available our softer coal deposits. I might go further and say that the transportation problem is being thoroughly studied in the department, whose officers are only too anxious that larger appropriations shall be made to enable them to go forward with this work, which is a question of money, too. I gave the figures of the coal deposits of 'Canada, and I think I referred to Alberta at the time. If so, my figures were wrong. The coal deposits of Canada are estimated at four hundred thousand million tons, and the peat deposits of Canada at nine thousand million tons, or two and a quarter per cent of the coal deposits. The coal deposits of this country would last for centuries for all the people whom the most optimistic of us could contemplate as likely to inhabit this land. The peat deposits would afford very considerable relief, though their development should also be put upon a commercial basis provided some process could be found to make them available. Some progress has been made along that line, but I fear it is not the most encouraging.

As to oil as a source of fuel-and this is a matter which is becoming of more and more importance as the years advance-we are still in a rather unfortunate position. I am not sure that I can give the figures correctly as to this, but I think we imported last year something like four hundred and fifty-one million gallons of oil, as against two hundred and thirty-odd million gallons five years ago-a tremendous advance in the oil importations of the country. Our own oil production during the same period increased from nine to ten million gallons; so that just two per cent of the oil consumed in Canada is produced at home. It is hoped by all that this condition of affairs will not last long. Oil is much more easily transported than coal, and there is every reason to hope, if not to believe, that we may see a very considerable oil discovery in this country. This Government, the previous government, and the government that preceded it -and particularly the last-offered considerable inducements to enable private enterprise to discover oil; and those of us who have given any thought to this question will not hesitate long to decide that private enterprise is the most likely agency to lead to mineral discovery; yea, to mineral development. Bounties have been, and are being paid, in oil production. Some ten years ago the minister of that day, under his powers granted him by Parliament, put

through an order whereby it was provided that in all oil leases issued thereafter a clause might be inserted protecting the lessee against royalty on his oil or gas up to 1930. That was done in order to induce to the utmost extent oil and gas prospecting in this country. All these efforts have resulted in, at least, a very great deal of prospecting and, as a consequence, the Dominion Treasury has benefited to a very considerable extent. I think if a comparison was made between the results to the Treasury on the one hand, and the results to the prospector on the other, the Dominion Treasury would be found to be the furthest ahead a long way. We have had a lot of money from oil leases, a great deal of money has come to the Treasury; but taking it all in all, and in the aggregate, not very much has come to the prospector. Believing that .there was reason to expect better results in the near future, steps have recently been taken whereby that clause is no longer inserted in oil leases, and the Government will be empowered, as respects all leases issued after the change was made some months ago, to collect such royalty as may be deemed to be fair and reasonable in respect of oil and gas production. Also leases now held are being cancelled much more quickly than in past years, the object being to reduce as far as possible those within the exempted class and to bring them as far as possible within the non-exempted class, to the end that the State may conserve what may be deemed the rights of the whole people of Canada in respect of oil and gas deposits. But let it not be thought that this is a field where the State is likely to intervene as a commercial exploiter, and to succeed better than private enterprise. It seems to me that this field of activity is one where private enterprise will succeed most, and where the results will consequently be best for the State as well as best for the citizens of the State. So much for that.

As regards the source of oil from oil shales, not very great progress has yet been made. We have a number of officers who have given considerable attention to that work, and some investigation has taken place. It is our great desire that investigation be made more thorough and more expeditious. We have great oil shale deposits in New Brunswick, in Nova Scotia and in Alberta; I think, as well, there are some in Prince Edward Island. Of course the extracting of oil from oil shale is a much less agreeable way of getting it than merely watching it come through a pipe

out of the earth. It will not likely be found that oil can be produced from oil shales in immediate competition with oil deposits in the bosom of the earth. Nevertheless it is of great value to the Dominion that those oil shales exist; and I think the time has come when we ought to try to spare the money, if we can, to investigate their possibilities. I take second place to none in the desire that the utmost progress be made as to coal, as to gas, as to oil, as to peat, as to every other source of fuel supply, to the end that this Dominion in that regard, as in all others, be to the utmost extent Economically independent, and that we be to the least possible degree dependent upon the legislation, or the whim, of any other country. We cannot move too fast to that end, consistent with our financial capacity; and so far as my influence goes I intend to urge that these investigations proceed. I believe, however, that more has been done than is generally known to the people of Canada. Indeed one of the things that come under the notice of public men, and I am sure hon. gentlemen opposite have had the same experience, is this: It is very general to find an eager and honest desire for investigation and an impatience that all these things are not known; but those very men who express such impatience usually know themselves very little as to what actual investigation has gone and is going on. To my own knowledge ser

' vices are being rendered by public officials, officers of departments and their branches- services rendered assiduously and efficiently and that possibly have been rendered for years. Nevertheless resolutions are received from public bodies, boards of trade and the like, demanding that something be done immediately to institute investigation into the very thing which has long been investigated, and thoroughly investigated, and in respect of which reports have been issued and findings made that the parties complaining have never even taken the trouble to refer to or read. I would commend to hon. gentlemen the desirability of communicating with the department in such matters. We will be only too ready to give the results of the inquiries that have been made by its scientific officers; and invite them further to stand behind any estimate that may be presented-estimates which are necessary and which will permit the officers of the department to achieve greater results more expeditiously, and more thoroughly.

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March 10, 1920